What is the problem?

You are using an IMAP server to manage your email, because IMAP is such a powerful protocol, that you can access your emails basically from everywhere: Linux, Windows, MacOS, graphical-clients, command-line-clients, webmail-frontends, your Palm Pilot, etc. But when using this you always encounter the problem that you don't have your addressbook where your emails are: everywhere. You can only store it on one computer. A web-addressbook which is used by most webmail-frontends, might be one solution, an LDAP server might be another one. But webmail isn't near as comfortable as one wishes it to be and an LDAP server is a real pain to set up plus there is no real good way for authentication.

Another option might be to store the addressbook on the IMAP server. Pine does this, but no other program can access its addressbook format. Avieri is an approach to eliminate this restriction. With avieri, every IMAP-compliant email-client can access your addressbook. Of course, using an avieri-enabled client is much more fun, as this will seamlessly integrate the addressbook into your email-client and provide a nice editing interface.

How does this work?

IMAP is a protocol for storing emails and eMail-clients are programs for reading emails, so it's a logical conclusion to save addressbook entries as emails. This also makes to possible to access the addressbook with any IMAP-compliant email-client. You even can edit your addressbook with such a client, as long as you follow some simple rules.

An addressbook entry basically looks like this:

Most graphical email clients convert email-addresses in text-emails to clickable links, so it's pretty easy to send mails using the avieri standard even if your email client doesn't suport it. You can see an example of this on these screenshots of Outlook Express and Thunderbird (which both don't support avieri yet). Notice that both clients show the same addressbook (labeled "Adressbuch" here - remind me to fix that). An avieri-aware client would integrate this information into his addressbook and display it accordingly.

Why that name?

Avieri is long for "a4i" which is short for "addressbook for IMAP".

What programs support avieri?

At the moment there are no implementations of the protocol available. I hope that soon some programmers of email clients will be implementing it. I am currently working on a proof-of-concept script that synchronizes an avieri addressbook with a Palm.

But you can already start using it. If you adhere to the simple rules of avieri, you will be able to seamlessly use the (hopefully) many implementations of avieri.